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MEDIA RELEASE: Snow Crab Assessment Update Shows Positive Signs in Most Fishing Areas

March 3, 2020

March 3, 2020

ST. JOHN’S, NL – Snow crab harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador are cautiously optimistic following an overall positive assessment update today from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). The majority of the province, particularly 3K, 3LNO, and 3Ps show increases to the fishable biomass, which is welcomed news to harvesters who have experienced significant quota reductions in recent years. At the same time, it is a slightly less positive picture in 2J and some parts of 3L inshore.

“Harvesters and scientists were in agreement when it came to the positive outlook for snow crab in 3K,” said La Scie harvester Trevor Jones, who attended the assessment with six other harvesters last week.

“We are certainly hopeful this stock assessment is a snapshot of what’s to come in regard to the stabilisation of the stock and increasing crab biomass. However, harvesters still have significant concerns surrounding the proposed Precautionary Approach framework and DFO’s lack of consideration for the knowledge of fish harvesters,” said Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor President.

Harvesters have been assured that last year’s controversial proposed Precautionary Approach (PA) Framework will not be used in management decisions. However, harvesters are concerned that despite industry disagreement with DFO’s proposed PA, it was again used to describe stock status.

Nelson Bussey, FFAW-Unifor Executive Board member and 3L crab harvester attended the assessment. Bussey said of the assessment update, “It is encouraging to see positive signals in most crab areas, but we still have serious concerns with DFO’s proposed PA because it is not consistent with the history of the stock. Under the DFO framework, areas such as 3K would have never been considered healthy over the history of the fishery.”

“I’m looking forward to another great year of snow crab in 3Ps, hopefully with an increase in quota in our area based on the results of the science assessment,” says Brian Careen, harvester from St. Brides. “But after attending the meetings with DFO Science last week, I am not impressed with the Precautionary Approach being used to describe stock status despite harvesters’ unanimous opposition,” Careen added.

In response to DFO’s proposed PA, FFAW-Unifor scientists are developing a new proposed PA in close collaboration with crab harvesters. DFO has begun the process of evaluating the new proposed PA, which will be subject to the same review process as DFO’s own crab PA.

“We are working to come up with an approach that works for DFO Science and also works for harvesters. We can’t repeat the mistakes of the past by ignoring harvester knowledge and excluding them from this process. With harvesters and scientists working together, we can build a management plan for a sustainable – and profitable – fishery,” says Sullivan.


Click here to see the full presentation document provided by DFO this morning.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Courtney Glode
FFAW-Unifor Communications